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SIXTY YEARS OF STRENGTH AND STABILITY: BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF NORTH CAROLINA CELEBRATES ANNIVERSARY

 DURHAM, N.C., Jan. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite the volatile nature of health care economics over the past few decades, and particularly over the past few years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina remains the state's oldest and largest health insurer, celebrating its 60th anniversary in 1993. And as health care reform continues to be on the forefront of our state's political agenda, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina has positioned itself for change through consistent strength and stability.
 "Our company is one of the healthiest health insurers in the nation despite fluctuations in the economy and other pressures," said Thomas A. Rose, who will have served as president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina for 20 years in May. "We have shown an ability to adapt to the myriad changes in health care since the idea of voluntary prepayment was first conceived."
 Skyrocketing health care costs and increased scrutiny of the health care industry has found insurers engaging in a delicate balancing act: attempting to remain fiscally solvent while keeping premium increases to a minimum. Two figures, reserve levels and administrative expenses, have become important benchmarks for health insurers. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina scores consistently well on both.
 "Our administrative expense ratio is one of the lowest in the country, running two to three times lower than the competition," Rose said. "For every premium dollar we collect, more than 93 cents is returned to our subscribers in benefits payments or is used to maintain reserves."
 Reserve levels are kept to guarantee insurers' contractual obligations to subscribers. In North Carolina, minimum reserve levels are mandated by the state's department of insurance.
 "The department of insurance closely monitors us to ensure that we maintain adequate reserves to serve our subscribers and adequate rates to reflect the cost of medical care in our state," said Conway Spiers, senior vice president of finance for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. "We have always satisfied the state's requirements for reserve levels."
 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is one of 72 independent and locally operated Plans in the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Each has its own board and management, allowing for flexibility in addressing the changing needs of subscribers and fluctuations in the local health care environment.
 "Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina has a long history of stability and conservative management," said Jim Long, North Carolina Insurance Commissioner. "I urge Blue Cross and Blue Shield to continue to meet this challenge -- and the needs of the citizens of our state."
 In an effort to fulfill its 60-year-old mission of making health insurance available to all North Carolinians, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina has created unique insurance products and implemented several cost containment measures.
 Cost-saving efforts such as the CostWise program, hospital contracts, preadmission certification, length of stay review, hospital billing audits and personal benefits management saved subscribers almost $200 million during the past year. BasiCare offers basic health insurance coverage to many of those who could not previously afford health insurance. And ACCESS provides comprehensive coverage to those individuals who otherwise cannot obtain insurance due to a history of medical problems.
 "The primary objective of Blue Cross and Blue Shield is and always has been to offer affordable health coverage to its subscribers," said Rose. "We will continue to do that by remaining fiscally strong and administratively healthy."
 -0- 1/21/93
 /CONTACT: Kathy Higgins, 919-490-4104, or David Abernathy, 919-490-4264, both of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina/


CO: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina ST: North Carolina IN: INS HEA SU:

CM -- CH002 -- 7250 01/21/93 09:04 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 21, 1993
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